The Philadelphia Union have dipped into sporting director Earnie Stewart's contacts in the Netherlands once more, announcing on Thursday they have signed Giliano Wijnaldum as a discovery signing. Wijnaldum will occupy an international roster spot.
The 24-year-old, a left back, joins the Union from German second division side VfL Bochum. Prior to that, he spent his career in his native country, playing first for AZ Alkmaar, where he knew Stewart, FC Groningen, and Go Ahead Eagles. With AZ, he won the 2012-13 Dutch Cup, winning that trophy alongside current Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore.
“We’re pleased to welcome Giliano to Philadelphia Union and are excited about the talent he adds to our defensive corps,” said Stewart in a team release. “As a young player who I have worked with before in the Netherlands, I know firsthand the potential he brings to our club. We are eager to integrate him within the squad and believe he has a bright future with the Union.”
A Dutch youth international, Wijnaldum comes from a soccer family. His brother Georginio Wijnaldum played for the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup and currently plays for Liverpool FC, while half brother Rajiv van La Parra plays in the English Championship for Huddersfield Town.